“What is conservative?” columnist Bret Stephens asked in Tuesday’s New York Times.
“It is,” he posits, “above all, the conviction that abrupt and profound changes to established laws and common expectations are utterly destructive to respect for the law and the institutions established to uphold it — especially when those changes are instigated from above, with neither democratic consent nor broad consensus.”
Stephens was responding to the broad conservative and Christian excitement that America’s extreme abortion regime might finally be struck down by the Supreme Court; but Stephens might as well have been writing about J.D. Vance’s hard-fought Tuesday night victory in Ohio’s Republican primary. Or Blake Master’s primary race to represent Arizona. Or Tucker Carlson’s intellectual ascendancy. Or the rise of a young and invigorated American New Right.
Stephens is wrong, of course. Conservatism isn’t remotely about process: It’s about traditional wisdom and values; it’s about conserving things of generational, transcendent value.
It means understanding that man is fallen, and society must protect families, workers, traditions, and, yes, the unborn from being wiped aside; oppressed from above.
It means conserving the truth — the truth about men and women, the truth about the unborn, the truth about human equality, and the necessary limits on government power.
That’s not to say there isn’t still an important place for process: In a civilization governed by prudent and benevolent institutions that buttress and strengthen traditional wisdom and values, process protects those cherished things from rapid change.
In a world governed by imprudent and vindictive institutions, however, that claw, gnash, and tear at traditional wisdom — that usurp traditional values — the “process” merely fools us into believing that what these institutions are doing is normal, when in reality it is profoundly abnormal.
In the September 1961 issue of Young Americans for Freedom’s New Guard magazine, a young M. Stanton Evans asked, “Can a conservative be a radical?” Yes, he concluded: “Confronted with an established revolution, the conservative must seek to change the status quo; he has no other means of affirming his tradition.”
Vance understands this. That is why, Axios’s Jonathan Swan and Lachlan Markay report, “The Republican establishment privately regards [him] with the same disgust many felt toward Donald Trump when he entered the White House on Jan. 20, 2017.”
It’s why Senate Minority Whip John Thune looked forward to reading the coverage of Vance’s loss.
It’s why one “senior Republican aide told The Hill 70 percent of Senate Republicans share that sentiment.”
The reality is, they should all fear Vance. He’s a man who doesn’t “care if Google is a private company, because they have too much power; and if you want to have a country where people can live their lives freely, you have to be concerned about power — whether it’s concentrated in the government or concentrated in big corporations.”
He thinks our corporate overlords would happily satiate us with whirling gizmos and gadgets while capturing our culture and selling us out to China. This places him directly at odds with tired, established Republicanism, which would prefer to slander the ghost of Ronald Reagan while they simp for corporations that work to undermine our national economy, our traditions, our families, and even our children’s sexuality.
Vance is also a man who doesn’t “really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another,” and thinks “it’s ridiculous that we are focused on” their border over our own.
Far more than Ukraine, he cares “about the fact that in [his] community right now, the leading cause of death among 18- to 45-year-olds is Mexican fentanyl.” This places him directly at odds with all of established Washington, where $5 billion for our country’s border security is too much to ask, but politicians crow about sending six times that amount to defend the sacred territorial integrity of another’s.
Vance is a man who thinks, “If any of us want to do the things that we want to do for our country and for the people who live in it, we have to honestly and aggressively attack the universities in this country.”
“So much of what we want to accomplish,” he recognizes, is “…fundamentally dependent on going through a set of very hostile institutions, specifically the universities, which control the knowledge in our society, which control what we call truth and what we call falsity, that provides research that gives credibility to some of the most ridiculous ideas that exist in our country.”
This once again places him directly at odds with Washington, which every years sends billions in federal aid to colleges and universities, with nary a whimper of a fight.
More broadly, “Vance,” Harpers editor James Pogue writes, “believes that a well-educated and culturally liberal American elite has greatly benefited from globalization, the financialization of our economy, and the growing power of big tech.”
“This,” he continues, “has led an Ivy League intellectual and management class… to adopt a set of economic and cultural interests that directly oppose those of people in places like Middletown, Ohio, where he grew up.”
In other words, Vance knows what time it is.
Cracks In The Wall
He’s joined in this understanding by Blake Masters, another New Right candidate for Senate who Republican leadership would rather see lose his primary.
They’re joined by Tucker Carlson, whose influence over the New Right was enough to trigger The New York Times into putting 10,000 words, 1,150 hours of television-watching, nine reporters, and three pieces toward taking him out.
They’re joined by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose fights with teachers and corporate America have earned him the ire of process-loving conservatives.
They’re joined by the broader American New Right rising across the country.
And there are signs that together, we’re beginning to earn wins: that the rock of the permanent, institutional left-wing-revolution is showing cracks. In the past month alone, we’ve seen a bellwether American state choose an outspent New Right candidate to run for Senate, adding a young face and new voice to conservative leadership.
We’ve seen elected politicians in Florida stand up and say, no, you won’t get corporate carve-outs and perks, and use those to attack the parents and children of our state without consequence.
We’ve seen the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, pick a fight with the entire ruling class, causing them to get so angry they exposed how anti-free speech they really were — and then winning the fight to control Twitter.
We’ve seen The New York Times’ full-body blow on a New Right cable host land as impotently as a limp-wristed pat.
We’ve seen CNN Plus put down, with Chris Wallace finally (if only temporarily) off TV; his lasting legacy reduced to the Republican Party withdrawing from the liberal-dominated Commission on Presidential Debates.
We’ve seen a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court imply that finally — after a half century of political dodging and hiding — the Supreme Court might strike down Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood.
And we’ve seen Senate leaders sit silently, or chuckle along with reporters, as they anticipate the New Right’s failings. We’ve seen columnists like Stephens complain that curtailing one of the world’s most barbarous abortion regimes “would be a radical, not conservative, choice.”
That’s not surprising, though. These men aren’t actually conservatives: they’re simple institutionalists. And in an age where America’s institutions — her colleges and universities, corporate media, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, hospitals and medical associations, Pentagon, Hollywood, children’s entertainment — are dominated by the left, their acquiescing makes them what M. Stanton Evans derisively called “silent partners in the work of destruction”; “silent partners” in the left’s permanent revolution.
In this moment, we don’t need silent partners: We need rebels willing to break the institutions of the left; to battle their champions in their own halls of power. We need men and women willing to fight for traditional wisdom and values; men and women who understand mankind is fallen, and that our elected leaders must protect families, workers, traditions and the unborn.
In an age where our institutions have become so used to living in the dark that they hate the light, we need men and women who are willing to fight for the truth.
In America today, we need radicals.